Delivering West Virginia's Story

Aug 29, 2014

WVPB engineer Art Austin keeps a cool head, with or without a hat.

It’s easy to panic when a transmitter goes down. Engineer Art Austin keeps a cool head in the middle of that chaos, and that’s why he’s the August winner of WVPB’s Storyteller Award.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting maintains transmitters, translators, microwave links and other equipment at more than 30 sites. They stretch from Bluefield to Bethany, Logan to Lost River.

These transmitters and translators deliver our programs not just to old-fashioned aerial antennas. They also deliver our programs to cable and satellite systems throughout the state.

When bad weather hits, you can count on something going wrong. Even when skies are clear, equipment can fail at any moment.

Recently, that’s what happened in Wheeling. An important piece of equipment failed on our translator. Even worse, the replacement part wasn’t available for weeks!

But that didn’t stop Art, according to WVPB Chief Engineer Dave McClanahan.

“Art took the parts from two bad modules and created his own Franken-translator,” McClanahan said.

Art Austin

According to his friend and co-worker, Debbie Oleksa, Art is from Uniontown, Pa., and started working in Master Control, and later transitioned into his current engineering post in Morgantown.

“In his spare time he is a Pennsylvania constable, and a volunteer fire fighter,” she said.

Art has suffered injuries as he’s done the difficult and dangerous job of fixing transmitters and translators. He continues to do that work without complaint.

It doesn’t matter how well we tell West Virginia story if no one can see and hear it. Thanks Art and the rest of our engineering staff for making that happen.

Art will each receive a $50 gift certificate to the retailer of his choice.

Meanwhile, we’re always looking for new candidates for Storyteller of the Month. It can be any employee or volunteer who goes above and beyond to “Tell West Virginia’s Story.”

Send nominations anytime to Belinda McCallister, bmccallister@wvpublic.org.